Like a thief with no business making off with the goods, Manchester United somehow found three points as their reward after their latest trip to Anfield. David DeGea saved United’s blushes, and Louis van Gaal’s job, with Wayne Rooney grabbing his team leading 12th goal this season in all competitions making wasteful Liverpool pay with United’s only shot on goal.“Why can’t we play Liverpool every week,” quipped United fans post match as Louis Van Gaal completed his second double in a row over the red half of Liverpool. It wasn’t pretty by any stretch of the imagination.
MATCH REVIEW: United’s starting eleven, excluding DeGea, were completely absent in a first half that saw Liverpool have the better of the possession, chances, and they looked the most likely of the teams to score. Their only shot on goal fell to Adam Lallana who placed a tame header right at DeGea. Firmino could only fire wide from the rebound. Jordan Henderson and James Milner both had poor volley’s fail to trouble the second best goal keeper in the world as voted by FIFA.
On the opposite side, United failed to trouble the error-prone Belgium keeper. The mistakes Simon Mignolet has committed this season made this a huge mistake from United. Right before the half, 18 year old Cameron Borthwick-Jackson came on as a sub in place of the injured Ashley Young. His display the second half would prove he deserves more of a run in the first team.
DeGea continued to show why he has been voted as United’s Player of the Season two years in a row. With Liverpool continuing to play with the initiative into the second half, a brilliant double save kept them at bay. First from Emre Can and then the rebound effort from Firmino, the Real Madrid target showed again why Manchester United loves the fax machine in the office’s at Real Madrid City. The Spanish International keeper was relieved Henderson’s later effort, after a cut-back from Firmino, was drilled straight into his arms.
With Liverpool still prodding and attacking the United defense, the smash-and-grab was truly on. As has been their downfall numerous times this season, Liverpool would concede yet again from a set piece.
The corner was taken short and Juan Mata was allowed to cross the ball into the box. Although he was being marked by 4 defenders, Maraoune Fellaini headed the ball onto the frame of goal. The rebound found Rooney, who wasn’t marked, and he lashed the ball home being forced to wait on the bounce and keep the ball under the bar. This was Rooney’s fifth goal in the last 4 matches – what a 2016 Rooney is having so far!
Jurgen Klopp immediately brought on striker, Christian Benteke and newly signed defender, Steven Caulker (whom he played up front for a second match in a row) in an attempt to find an equalizer, but it never came.
Football can be a cruel game, and in a matchup of two very poor teams, Liverpool, again, was the poorer of the two struggling sides.
NOTES: Wayne Rooney’s goal at Anfield was only his second in the red half of Liverpool in the last 11 years. His quality strike brings him to within 7 goals of Sir Booby Charlton’s record of 249 goals for Manchester United.
Louis Van Gaal has yet to lose to Liverpool as the manager of Manchester United in the Premier League. In the 2015/16 season United has had 4 shots on goal against Liverpool in two matches and all 4 shots have found the back of the net.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Louis Van Gaal is not out of the woods yet. The United display at Liverpool was eerily similar to what has been on show this season and doesn’t bring hope to many United fans grasping to the belief the Iron Tulip has turned a corner. United managed only 7 shots during the match with their only shot on goal scoring past Mignolet. The three points may keep the boo-boys at bay, for now, but his job at Manchester United hangs on the edge of a knife. Losing another match could see the end of Dutchman’s reign at Manchester United, and rightly so.